REED V. CAMPBELL, 476 U. S. 852 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Reed v. Campbell, 476 U.S. 852 (1986)

Reed v. Campbell

No. 85-755

Argued April 30, 1986

Decided June 11, 1986

476 U.S. 852


Appellant's father died intestate at a time when § 42 of the Texas Probate Code prohibited an illegitimate child from inheriting from its father unless its parents had subsequently married. Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U. S. 762, decided four months after the father's death, held that a total statutory disinheritance, from the paternal estate, of children born out of wedlock and not legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents, is unconstitutional. Thereafter, appellant filed a claim to a share in her father's estate, but it was denied by a Texas trial court. The Texas Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Trimble does not apply retroactively.

Held: The interest, protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, in avoiding unjustified discrimination against children born out of wedlock, requires that appellant's claim to a share in her father's estate be protected by the full applicability of Trimble. There is no justification for the State's rejection of the claim. At the time appellant filed her claim, Trimble had been decided, and her father's estate remained open. Neither the date of the father's death nor the date appellant's claim was filed should have prevented the applicability of Trimble. Those dates, either separately or in combination, had no impact on the State's interest in orderly administration of the estate. Pp. 476 U. S. 854-857.

682 S.W.2d 697, reversed and remanded.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

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